Hierarchy of Objectives
The hierarchy of objectives is a tool that helps analyze and communicate the
project objectives. It organizes these objectives into different levels of a
hierarchy or tree. Different organizations use different names for the various
levels and the types of objectives at each level, but otherwise there is a great
deal of similarity in approach.
This approach organizes objectives into three broad levels:
- Strategic, and
In general, these levels correspond to the top, middle, and working levels
of management in an organization. Broad, general objectives, some people call
them "goals", that policymakers deal with, for example: "improve
economic growth", fall into the top level and are called "policy objectives".
Objectives that are narrower in scope, such as "increase literacy for
teenage girls", fall into the middle level and are called "strategic
objectives". Objectives that relate directly to a project's deliverables
fall into the operational level and are called "project objectives".
Objectives that relate to project inputs, i.e. what is needed to make a project
function, are also considered operational and are called "input objectives".
Operational objectives are usually the concern of working management, including
Figure 1 shows an example of a hierarchy of objectives
for an electric power plant. As shown, the hierarchy has four types of objectives:
policy, strategic, project, and input and they are grouped into three levels:
policy, strategic, and operational.
Policy Objective: The overall policy objective is to "Increase
industrial production". We then ask: How is this to be accomplished? That
brings us to the next lower objective, the strategic objective.
Strategic Objective: One way that the country is trying
to increase industrial production, the policy objective, is by producing "50
KW of electric power". This is the strategic objective for the project.
Of course, there may be other strategic objectives and additional projects that
also support the overall policy objective. Again we ask: "How is the 50
KW of electric power to be obtained?" The answer takes us to the next lower
level of objective in the hierarchy, i.e. the project objective.
Project Objective: The project objective in most cases is the
same as the deliverable for the project. In this case, it is to "Build a
new power plant." Asking: "How is the power plant to be built?",
again takes us to the next lower level of objective, the input objective.
Input Objective: The input objectives relate primarily to the
resources and conditions that are required to accomplish the project. For the
power project, they consist of a "$10 million contract, land for the power
plant, and necessary labor" as well as expertise